TEFL/ESL Activities Using Little or No Resources, V3

I typed the following into a PDF that you can download here: tefl-esl-activities-using-little-to-no-resources-v3

First/Last
Have students write instructions on how to do something, using “first, then, later, next, last …” etc. Examples: How to tie your shoe, how to bake a cake

Introductions
Pass around a roll of toilet paper. Tell students to take as many squares as they want, without telling them why. Once all students have at least one piece, go around the room and have each student tell something about themselves (one fact per each square).

Just a Minute
Write a list of topics, spread across the blackboard. Have students take turns throwing a paper ball at the board. Have them talk for 30 seconds – 1 minute on whatever topic they choose.

Simon Says
Classic. Either the teacher or a student leads, saying “Simon says …” followed by a command (example: touch your head). Students are “out” if they perform a task that wasn’t precluded by “Simon says.”

Take Off/Touchdown
Either the teacher or a student can lead this. Begin with students seated. Give a statement and have students stand if that statement applies to them. Example: “Stand up if you have a sister.” Have students sit back down between each statement.

Number Jump
Write the words and numbers for 1-10 separately on pieces of 8×10 paper. Also include a piece of paper with “start” written on it. Line the papers upon the floor. Have a “jumping contest” to see which student can jump to the highest number. Have students repeat the number each classmate jumps to.

number-jump-tefl-esl-gross-motor-classroom-activity-kids
Number Jump

Rainstorm
(Note: This doesn’t use language, but is a good way to “warm up” the classroom, so I am including it here.)
Have students stand up.
Silently, have them follow along to create a “rainstorm,” using the following actions.
(To begin: Getting louder)
-Rub hands together
-Snap fingers
-Clap hands
-Slap thighs
-Stomp feet
(Now, getting softer)
-Slap thighs
-Clap hands
-Snap fingers
-Rub hands together

You can see TEFL/ESL Activities Using Little to No Resources version 1 and version 2 by clicking on the links.

Hello! by Alba Arifi (a poem by a Kosovar high school student)

At the beginning of December, before a week-long Peace Corps training, I was hanging out with some other volunteers in Pristina. They were going to a poetry slam competition at a local high school. Since I had nothing else to do, I decided to tag along. Honestly, I expected to be bored for two hours. (How exciting can a high school poetry slam competition be, #amIright?) But I was absolutely BLOWN AWAY by the talent of these students.

Another volunteer helped judge the competition, and she put me in touch with Alba Arifi, who wrote my favorite poem. Alba has graciously agreed to allow me to post her poem, Hello!, on this blog. So without further adieu …

image1
Poet Alba Arifi

Hello! by Alba Arifi

Hello you!
You know me, for sure.
I come from far away, risen from the ashes of my childhood
Hello! I know this is unexpected
You never thought you’d see me again, for sure.
But I saw you today
So I thought I’d say hello!
Not that I am a big fan, I already have your signature, written all over me.
Not that I wanted to hear your voice,
It still haunts me in the dark, like a terrifying lullaby that takes your sleep away.
Not that I missed your touch, for I can still feel it, everyday, every minute, ripping away my purity.
Because I still have trouble breathing from the day you used my halo to choke me on my innocence
Hello! I’m the one you left in ruins, you said you mean no harm, and I didn’t know you have no idea what “no harm” means.
Hello! The ghost of the past Christmas.
Not pleased to see you here, on the bus, who knew! You’re just another person.
Isn’t it funny? How no one in this bus has any idea what a horrifying beast you are,
how that young lady sits next to you,
never knowing what you are.
Makes you really wonder,
how many vicious animals do we cross paths with,
never to know what they really are.
Hello! I want to ask you if you know that your touch is some kind of dark magic.
Do you know that it can ruin a life?
Hello! I wanted my first time to be special,
with someone I feel deeply for but I didn’t mean this.
Because I feel a deep hate for you,
but I meant for it to be love.
I never asked for it to be THIS “special”
I wanted to remember my first time, but I guess I should have been more careful with what I wished for, because now I can never get it out of my mind.
Perhaps the best way to improve memory is trying to forget
See, wishes do come true.
Hello! I’m sorry for disturbing,
I just want to feed you with a little of this poetic poison inside of me.
From the touch that I deeply abhor
Make you eat the forbidden fruit that feeds your ego
And take from me the felicity that makes me whole.
And when the night comes, I’m stuck with the ambiguousity of life
“To be or not to be?”
From what I’ve tasted of sorrow
I stand with those who live for tomorrow
Even though life made me the prey
with my pain I’ll be the hunter
And I’ll sure make you pay
In a non poetic way.

Guest Blogger: Hannah Polipnick (Dumb Things I Have Done in Kosovo)

hannah
Hannah

Hey friends, family, and readers of April’s blog! My name’s Hannah and this week I’ll be taking over for our dear and beloved April. April and I were roommates during our first few days in Kosovo, and let me tell you she’s an absolute saint. I’m so grateful that we were paired together and that we have been able to develop a wonderful friendship. Anyway, I thought I’d keep things light for my blog post and talk about two MAJOR dumdum moves I’ve made since coming to Kosovo.

The first incident that stuck with me all through summer and something my PST host-familly will never let me forget occurred one sweaty sweltering afternoon. I walked up the hill to my house after a long day of training, and I was profusely sweating. My family took one look at me and said “Oj Han shumë zheg sod, kokë kall!” However, I failed to hear kokë kall (pronounced koh-kah kall) and instead I heard koka-kol. I was so excited, having thought that my family was saying, “Oh Han, it’s so hot outside and you’re gross and sweaty, how about a nice glass of coke.” I said I would love some coke thank you very much, to which everyone burst out laughing. Turns out, kokë kall means your head is literally on fire. Thank you host family, I’m aware my face gets red when it’s hot out. The rest of the summer every aunt, uncle, cousin, and neighbor I had asked me if I wanted a coke when it was particularly hot outside…

Another incident occurred during Bajram or what is called Eid in other communities. I went to the mosque with my host sister and cousin and met up with a fellow volunteer and her host cousin. I had asked my host sister to tell me how to congratulate my Muslim family members, neighbors, and friends on finishing their fasting. She told me you could say “urime Bajram” or “perhajr Bajrami”. As prayers were winding down I began reciting my congratulatory remarks in my head. I turned to my cousin, flashed her my biggest smile and said “perime Bajram”, which translates to “vegetables Bajram” in English. My family now says perime instead of congratulations for every occasion.

One thing I learned quickly from living in Kosovo is that I could choose to be embarrassed by mistakes, or I could join in in laughing. I promise, laughing at yourself is always the better solution.
***
April’s note: You can read posts from other guest bloggers here:

Lesson Plan: Teaching Emotions

I’ve posted a number of ESL/TEFL activities using little or no resources (you can find those here and here). Recently, I did the following lesson with my English club (which I host twice per week at a local NGO). I liked it so much I thought I would post my whole lesson plan.

I was inspired by something similar on Pinterest, and asked my awesome friend Katie to include some paint chips in a care package she was sending (she did). This lesson plan doesn’t require much else in the way of materials. Here is what I used:

  • Paint chips in yellow, blue, purple, green, red, and gray
  • iPhone + Jam speaker
  • Index Cards
  • Paper

(I used the paint chips to list a range of emotions in English. On one the side of the chip, I listed the main vocabulary word in Albanian.)

paint-chip-teaching-emotions-esl-tefl

Yellow:

  1. Contented
  2. Glad
  3. Delighted
  4. Joyful

Blue:

  1. Unhappy
  2. Blue
  3. Heartbroken
  4. Depressed

Purple:

  1. Uneasy
  2. Tense
  3. Agitated
  4. Anxious

Green:

  1. Envious
  2. Covetous
  3. Jealous
  4. Possessive

Red:

  1. Irritated
  2. Mad
  3. Upset
  4. Furious

Gray:

  1. Dread
  2. Afraid
  3. Frightened
  4. Horrified

The Lesson:

For a warm up, I played the song “Happy” by Pharrell twice, using my iPhone + speaker. First, I asked students just to listen to the song, in order to become familiar with it. After that, I asked students to listen to the song again, and count (using tick marks on a sheet of paper), how many times the word “happy” appeared in the song. (For the record, three of my students counted 28 times, while my other two students had different numbers. The point wasn’t to accurately discover how many times the word was used, but rather to have students practice listening for a specific English word.)

[As a variation to this, you could print the lyrics to the song but delete certain words, and have students listen for/fill in those words.]

Next, I had a discussion with my students about emotions and what they mean. I passed around the paint chips and asked them to copy down the new vocabulary words. ( I had a small group of students. I think this lesson plan could work with a larger group, but you would probably need more copies of the paint chips to pass around.)

Then, I wrote this sentence on the board: “Today I feel _____ because ____.” We went around the circle and each student stated how he/she was feeling, and why.

Next, I asked each student to draw three index cards from the pile I made. Each index card listed a different scenario. Here is what I wrote:

  • Your mom yells at you.
  • You are watching your favorite television show.
  • You got a stain on your favorite shirt.
  • You are playing outside with your friends.
  • You have a big test at school.
  • You broke your arm.
  • You are eating dinner with your family.
  • Your friend got a new iPhone.
  • You lost your dog.
  • Your little sister broke your favorite toy.
  • Your best friend gets a puppy.
  • Your best friend is moving away.
  • Two of your friends go to lunch and don’t invite you.
  • You are lost in Pristina.
  • You are walking alone in the dark.
  • You got into a fight with your best friend.

Students then had to read their scenarios aloud, and identify which emotion(s) they might feel in that situation.

Then, I asked students to write one sentence for each category of emotion, and read them aloud.

We were close to running out of time by this (the group runs for 1 hour), but in the last few minutes of class, I asked students to choose one of the sentences they wrote and draw a picture to illustrate it.

What I like about this lesson plan: 1) It doesn’t require much in the way of material. 2) It incorporates audio learning, visual learning, speaking aloud, critical thinking, creativity, and kinesthetic learning.

I did this lesson with a group of middle and high school students. I think it’s too advanced for younger kids, but there are probably ways to modify it and make it easier.

Tongue Tied

“All that I’ve been taught
And every word I’ve got
Is foreign to me” — Hozier, Foreigner’s God

I used to have grand ideas about learning Shqip (Albanian). I thought I’d be fluent in the language by the time I left Kosovo! I thought my volunteer friends and I would speak to each other using Shqip in public! I imagined myself rapidly switching between Shqip and English, AND EVERYONE WOULD BE IMPRESSED.

Haha. I am beginning to understand how a person can live in another country and not speak the native language.

Six months in, and I’ll confess, my motivation to learn has hit a recent slump. I can speak the language well enough to communicate with my host family. I can speak it well enough to communicate with shop owners and taxi drivers. But the rest of the time, I speak English. And that’s if I talk at all. I don’t like to talk much in any language.

I have Shqip tutor, and she’s great. But my once-per-week sessions are probably not going to make me fluent in the language. I am also struggling with the usefulness of learning Shqip … will I ever need to speak it once I leave Kosovo? If I want to get some kind of international job after Peace Corps, would my time be better spent brushing up on my high school French?

So, yes, it’s been a struggle. I recently came across this article from Babbel, though, which has given me some hope, and also some ideas on how to acquire language. (I also keep reminding myself that, prior to six months ago, I had never heard Albanian spoken or seen it written … maybe I should go easier on myself.) The article lists these helpful tips when learning a new language:

1) Choose the words you want/need to learn.
2) Relate them to what you already know.
3) Review them until they’ve reached your long­-term memory.
4) Record them so learning is never lost.
5) Use them in meaningful human conversation and communication.

If you live under a rock, perhaps you haven’t seen the following video. (It’s been all over the Internet lately.)

Isn’t that sweet? I sometimes feel like I need a greater motivator to learn Shqip, other than, “I live here so I guess I should.”

Creating Teaching Materials

As a visual learner myself, I am drawn to creating visual materials for my classes. (Although I do try to incorporate audio and kinesthetic learning, too.) I wanted to write a post and share some easy-to-make teaching aids, using just a few supplies (paper, scissors, markers/crayons, and tape).

teaching-body-parts
Labeling parts of the body

This summer, my teaching group and I did a lesson on animals, where we created these flashcards.

IMG_3166

A fun game to play is to have students create two lines. Then, students step to the front of the room two-by-two. The teacher holds up a flashcard and the first student to say the correct word wins a point. This game can be adapted to any subject.

For teaching time, I created these flashcards, where students have to match the time to the correct clock.

teaching-time

Some of my younger classes were struggling with learning professions. Using their workbook, I cut out drawings of different professions (since I hate to draw/am bad at it) and taped them to index cards. Then I wrote the names of the professions separately on another set of cards. Students then played a memory game where they had to find and match the correct word/picture. This can also be adapted to any subject.

tefl-flashcards

Last, I created a flashcard set of 30 different pieces of clothing (with each piece colored in three different colors). These can be used in two different ways: 1) Give each student a card, and then ask them to stand up when they hear their clothing piece/color called. For example, “If you are holding the purple hat, stand up.” Or, for smaller classes, you can spread all 30 flashcards on the table, and ask students to gather around. Then, call out a piece/color, and see who can find it the fastest. Example: “Who can find the purple hat?”

clothes-flash-cards

This summer, I worked with my friend and fellow volunteer Chelsea at a 6-day English camp. She created THE CUTEST bear paper dolls (Chelsea loves bears) with little outfits. Students had to dress the bears appropriately, according to the season/weather. (I am trying to convince Chelsea she needs to start a business where she creates a line of bear paper dolls .. we’ll see how that goes. 🙂 )

bear-paper-doll
Created by Chelsea Coombes
bear-paper-dolls
Created by Chelsea Coombes

There are probably countless ways to use flashcards in the classroom, but I wanted to share what I have used and seen used so far. If you are an ESL/TEFL teacher, I hope you found this helpful!

Guest Blogger: Sam Green (A Single Story)

Hi, Everyone. I asked my friend Sam if he would write a guest post for my blog. Sam is not only the first man I’ve asked to post, he is also the first person to write about Peace Corps Kosovo’s Community Development program. Enjoy! –April

***

A Single Story

In Peace Corps there are several phrases that are repeated so often during training that they become ingrained. The one that’s stuck with me is “single story”. During training they refer to single stories in a few different ways. Primarily in the context of the recent conflict in Kosovo, and that when you hear a story of what happened in the war whether from an Albanian or a Serb, it’s key to remember that you are only hearing one perspective. But they also use the same term when talking about how each member of our cohort will have a completely different experience from the others.

I have been realizing how very true this is, as we have started at our different sites and organizations. I will be getting a unique experience. I am the first volunteer to working with a Roma organization, and I am living with a Catholic host family in a predominantly Muslim and Turkish melting pot. The languages on the street range from Albanian and Romani to Turkish and German.

In addition to the English teachers we have in Kosovo, like the amazing April, we also have Community Development volunteers. The community development sector in Kosovo has many wide-ranging goals, but at its essence we are here to help build capacity within NGO’s and civil society organizations. I’m currently facing the challenges that will come with working and living within two different minority communities. I’m excited to see Kosovo from their perspective.

peace-corps-kosovo-community-development-program
Photo by Sam Green

The largest challenge I’ve faced thus far has been language barriers. No one within my organization speaks English and my Albanian skills are sub-par. I’ve been taking Albanian tutoring and this week am starting with a tutor to learn the Romani language. It has been very hard to express myself to my counterpart, when trying to speak about vision or strategic planning through my limited Albanian and Google Translate. In an effort to do something meaningful with the rest of my time, I’ve started an English club with some secondary school students. I am daunted by the challenges ahead of me, but I look forward to overcoming them and can’t wait to be able to tell my single story.

english-club
Photo by Sam Green

Other guest bloggers’ posts: